Thursday, September 24, 2009


Marie Cousineau chummed with my sister, Dawn, when we were kids. So off we trekked for Sonoma to visit. On the way, a coffee stop brought us to St. Helena and this beautiful building (above) caught my eye. Lovely town, with interesting shops. My Michiganders were amazed at shops offering olive oil tastings.
The adobe oven above is on the grounds of the Mission San Francisco Solano, the northernmost Franciscan Mission of the 12 California Missions founded by Father Junipera Serra. Having lived in California for 55 years, this was one Mission I had never seen. The Missions are a part of California History unknown to them, that and our close connection to our Indian/ Mexican/Spanish state before the 49ers arrived.

This Mission is well preserved and it was quite elaborate as visible in the chapel picture above.

Our next stop, General Vallejo's wonderful home and ranch. Bernice and Marie posed under an orange tree, something they had never seen before, oranges growing on the tree.
The rancho stored grain, olive oil, and other dry goods in the beautiful building above. The Vallejo house is furnished with artifacts from the family, including family portraits. Vallejo became wealthy and was the beneficiary of a 66,000 acre Spanish land grant. When the Americanos came in without their families and a blood lust for gold, life changed dramatically for the Spanish settlers. Vallejo had no interest in gold. He believed in the land, its productivity, as the real wealth of California. That has proven to be true.
A peek inside the house, a piano, harp and wonderful Spanish guitars. They left us with great music, dances, food and adobes. They knew how to live large in this hot, dry country.


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